My daughter, when she was small, referred to the people I interacted with via blogs and social media as “imaginary friends” because unlike those I know in real life, who she can see and know too, these people live only on a screen she couldn’t quite read and in my conversations.
I suppose in many ways her assessment is correct. You can’t know always know people unless you have some tangible connection with them in real time and space.
But I have and continue to view many of those I have only met through their words, and possibly their pictures, as my friends.
And, of course, because I met my husband online and he was “imaginary” at one point, I will likely always maintain that real bonds can be virtually constructed.
Because of this, it’s easy to forgot the limitations of the written word.
As a writer, I try to choose the words I type with care. I am aware that they lack nuance and vehicles like Twitter, for instance, further handicap conversation with character limits.
Try as I might, and being aware of the possible pitfalls, I am still always surprised when imaginary people disappoint.
The fault is mine. I fill in gaps that if we knew each other in person wouldn’t be gaps.
I trust too much.
A lesson I haven’t fully learned even well into my second decade online.
I am not totally discouraged, and this too shall pass, but it’s a reminder that my imagination hasn’t grown up with the rest of me. It still sees the world as rosy and resplendent, and people as hopeful possibilities.